David Allison - General Manager for Experience Delivery
Fall is nearing its end out on the Prairie, and with it exits obstreperous school children learning and laughing in Prairietown
, the family fun opportunities at Lenape Camp, balloon flights to 350 feet and exciting animal interactions at the Conner Homestead. Another successful season has wrapped up at Conner Prairie.
So what do managers do during the “off-season”? Of course, although the outdoor activities and historic areas are closed until April, the Welcome Center with the ever-popular Discovery Station
and Craft Corner
are still up and running in November, January, February and March (Thursday-Sunday, 10am-2pm). And December brings a plethora of holiday experiences like Gingerbread Village
(Tuesday-Sat., 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-5pm) and Conner Prairie by Candlelight
(Friday and Saturday nights the first three weekends of December). January through March also features the scrumptious deluxe experience at the Conner House that we call Hearthside Suppers
(various weekend evenings in those months). Running these experiences takes some of our time for sure, but without the outdoor areas, we still find ourselves with time to work on other projects. Below is not an all-encompassing list, but should help give a little behind-the-scenes glance into our day-to-day winter projects.
-The winter months become time for staff to step back, rejuvenate ourselves creatively and to rethink programs and activities. We are constantly refining the experiences we offer based on survey findings and staff input to provide the highest quality activities we can for you.
-We are rolling out an exciting new experience in the area formerly known as Liberty Corner.
(Look for an update about this area in the next three weeks!) All of us are chugging away to create a brand new exhibit that will “wow” everyone starting in June of 2011.
-Recruiting, hiring and training new facilitators are a big push in February and March. We are always looking for engaging, enthusiastic staff to help us provide consistently excellent experiences for you. This takes lots of time and energy to find the right people and get them trained in the “Opening Doors”
-Deepening our content, engagement and administrative skills through trainings and seminars helps us maintain our status as leaders in the museum field.
I think I speak for most Conner Prairie staff when I say that the “off season” really is a misnomer, since our wheels are still spinning as fast as ever, but they are just pointed in a different direction. The winter allows us to keep innovating and providing the types of experiences that will inspire curiosity about Indiana’s past long into the future.
Posted: 11/11/2010 6:00:28 PM
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Pamela Jackson - Guest Services
It’s September! The grass is crunchy from lack of rain, but the humidity is low, the sky is blue, and the hint of fall is beckoning me outdoors. So where am I? I’m stuck indoors staring at a pile of papers that need grading. I want to get outside and enjoy this glorious weather, but – and you knew there was a but – I have little time to spare because life gets in the way. I am a high school English teacher, working in an inner-city public school system in Indianapolis, and my day job eats away at my leisure time. I’m beginning to feel pale from all the time spent inside trying to decipher sophomore essays, and the only fresh air I get is what’s blowing through my open window.
Sometimes a person just has to push back from the computer and take a well-deserved break. Like a lot of stressed out folks in this economy, I desperately need a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air. Working weekends in Guest Services at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is a welcome break from my daily routine, one I look forward to Monday through Friday.
We in Guest Services hope you will abandon your weekly responsibilities for a few hours, too. Grab the family and come on out for some well-deserved fun! Enjoy the historic exhibits; sample some apple concoctions from The Apple Store
; buy a trinket or book from the Store; talk to our historic interpreters as their characters prepare for the coming winter months; take a ride in our 1859 Hot Air Balloon
and breathe in the clean fresh air while enjoying the view at 350 feet.
There is so much to do here, and not only on the weekend. Despite our need for rain, the weather promises to be glorious for the remainder of this month. It would be a shame to spend the time indoors, so throw caution to the wind (pardon the cliché), forget about that work you brought home, and come on out to Conner Prairie. Hey – the summer is waning, but that paperwork will still be there Monday morning.
Posted: 9/23/2010 2:55:18 PM
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There has always been a part of me that is curious about how people did things in the past. I think some things were simpler, while others were much more challenging. But I’m sure festivals and celebrations were just as exciting an event to people as they are now.
I’m a huge fan of fall festivals and county fairs. There is not a more beautiful time of year to be outside and explore what your area has to offer. Country Fair this year is a perfect example of an exciting and unique local event that people of all ages need to visit.
There is nothing more quintessentially fall than a tractor pulled hayride and baseball. If baseball isn’t your game of choice, even 1886 style, then try another competition. You can choose from nail driving, pie eating or even tug-of-war competitions! Afterwards, go see the Power Show.
The Power Show is more than 50 antique tractors and steam engines alongside their modern day equivalents.
These were the machines that powered our country for decades and have helped drive our economy and society forward. The sheer size of them and the tasks they helped their operators accomplish is something to marvel.
There is much more to see and do at Conner Prairie during Country Fair, but I don’t have the space to include it! You can see the full schedule of events, including food and live music, here: http://www.connerprairie.org/Plan-Your-Visit/Special-Events/Country-Fair.aspx.
It’s going to a fun filled weekend of odd wonders, delicious treats and a celebration of our agricultural heritage. What are you looking forward to the most?
Posted: 9/9/2010 2:16:53 PM
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The start of October brings with it a brand new atmosphere to Conner Prairie. Not only is there a breath of fall in the air, with the crisp, cool breeze and the crimsoning leaves beginning to drop from the maple tree by Dr. Campbell’s house, but there is a whole new level of excitement and energy that you can almost taste when you walk outside.
Sure, you might be able to attribute some of this new attitude to the delicious caramel apples and cider available at the Apple Store, or to the fact that setup for the always-thrilling Headless Horseman program has already begun. But those of us behind the scenes know that the palpable vitality in the brisk morning air is due mostly to the type of visitors we can expect throughout the day.
Fall is school tour season, and that means that within four short hours on any given day this month, we will see between 300 and 1100 eager and energetic young scholars pouring through the historic grounds. These students are usually moving in groups of 7-10, with one or two chaperones at their heels, trying hard to keep everyone together and guide learning opportunities as best as possible. These groups have a very short amount of time to see everything, and most school groups try their hardest to explore every house and try their hand at every activity before they return to school.
Now, you might think that this means you should avoid Conner Prairie on a school day in the fall, but I want to give you an inside tip: school days are some of the best days to be at Conner Prairie. While our staff might be a little more worn out by the boisterous crowds, they are also going to be at the top of their game and will have plenty of hands-on activities and great topics of discussion ready to go for you. Plus, in the afternoons, most, if not all of the school students have returned to their respective institutions, and an enchanting calm settles over the grounds. Our staff remains keyed-up for great experiences, but they have the luxury of more time and attention to devote just to you and your family.
Those intrepid guests who happened to have a day off from school, or are traveling across the country, or have preschoolers who want to come in and see some animals, get to have very unique one-on-one interactions with their favorite interpreters (and animals). Just yesterday, I happened to be in the school house in Prairietown when a grandma, grandpa, mom and two kids wandered in, after perfecting the art of walking on stilts! We had a wonderful time practicing our mathematical skills and teasing grandpa about his legendary schoolhouse mischief.
So, if you have a free weekday afternoon, take my advice and come out to Conner Prairie to enjoy the fruits of the fall in one of the most beautiful, family-friendly locations in the Midwest!
Posted: 10/1/2009 11:15:53 AM
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